2005/08/27

[Books] Manifold Trilogy, Stephen Baxter

I just finished to read "Manifold: Origin".

As the other books of the Manifold sequel, this book spans thoughts of a galactic dimension, tries to answer the fermi paradox (if we are not alone in the universe, where are the aliens?), and teaches through description as much as it entertains by its fictional story. The characters belongs to several species of hominids, which permits the author to describe their mutual relationships in biology as in history.

DON'T READ THE FOLLOWING IF YOU'RE GOING TO READ THE BOOKS!!!
Each Manifold book tries to answer the Fermi's paradox in its own way.

  • In "Manifold: Time", (from what I remember, I read it a long time ago), humanity is not alone but almost, because most species either suppres themselves or enter a "virtual" world (like the whole population starts playing EverQuest forever) and trigger super-novae so that no other species can evolve to come and disturb them. I liked the concept of a whole species entering a virtual world of their own, but the other theories are far fetched.
  • In "Manifold: Space", the universe is full of life, but each species learned early to hide itself for fear to bring competition from other stars, or disapeared from this competition. I like this one particularily because the change of paradigm that it supposes (we don't see the alien because they don't exist vs because they hide themselves or disapeared through competition and evolution) seems to me similar to the change of paradigm undergone with the birth of paleontology and darwinism (we don't see other form of life because they don't exist vs because they disapeared).
  • In "Manifold: Origin", an ancient species, similar to hominids, created the universe such that hominids are alone there, for fear that other species would anihilate the hominids, but created many parallel universes so that many hominid species could evolve separately and not be lonely. It seemed a bit too antropocentric for me, it sounds too close to the belief that the whole universe is centered on Earth and humankind.
I like those books, they leave me with thought about colonizing the solar system, the universe beyond, about the survival and spread (both closely linked, when you consider the risk of Earth being collided with another body) of the species or at least of our eco-system, about destiny. I wish politicals leaders could afford to have such a long term view, but I guess that it is reserved to prophets, not to politicians... And anyway it would be already great if they cared a bit for the survival of humanity whithin the next 500 years: ecology and social engineering shouldn't be minor features!
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